Why punk rock is now the truly international underground

For years we have been in touch with the international punk community.
The power of the Internet has seen the subculture spread all over the planet. 
Punk rock international is massive, the music that is discovered on the Internet and is far removed from what people are told to like by the mainstream and has a power and honesty that is striking a chord. 
The Strokes get sold as alternative culture but people are looking through the charade and finding something with far more power and meaning and that’s why Brazil and Russia have a massive punk and hardcore audience enthralled by bands you will never read about or hear on the radio, that’s why there is a punk and metal scene in Iran but little interest in indie music, that’s why China has had a big punk scene for years (we regularly review their releases on this site and we will be releasing our own stuff over there) that’s why the middle east has punk and metal scenes that has resulted in the tragic murder of the ‘Emo’ kids in Iraq. that’s why Pussy Riot have become an international cause célèbre for their post Riot Grrrl, anti Putin activities in Russia.
Its been an ongoing process for a long time. 

At first it was people in Indonesia and Malaysia asking for free records and CDs which we sent, now it’s for MP3s and information. It’s a process that is truly worldwide. We have had cassettes from Crass style bands in Nepal, emails from cities in China we had to look up on a map, played gigs in Russia to thousands of wild punk kids, acknowledged the massive Brazilian punk scene, seen the sheer scale of the US punk underground, played in Algeria to hundreds of wild punk kids and hung out with committed punk rock folk all over the world.
Punk is truly international and has a powerful meaning that many have lost in the UK because we thought we were above it all. Punk has become a retro feature- the story of the Clash and ignores all the bands who have become a tue massive influence on worldwide punk scenes like Crass and second wave punk.
What was once a true alternative culture has been watered down or marginalised here. What was once independent because it existed outside the mainstream has become ‘indie’, a byword for transparent, easily marketed, vaguely hip music. 
 It once meant Crass and now it means Coldplay.
Ironically I’m sat in Southern studios, the place where Crass made all those amazing records writing this. In the UK music like this is routinely ignored by the mainstream and written out of the history of rock. Meanwhile worldwide they have become part of a platform of bands that are so much of a threat that the fans are routinely beaten up or even killed.
The punk rock international is now everywhere and in recent weeks has seen a constant series of reports about oppression and death.
Last week we reported the stoning to death of Emo kids in Iraq by local cops and militias. Their crime was having different hair styles that were seen as decadent- are we really living in the 21st century? We wrote about Pussy Riot facing jail for their anti Putin gig in a church, we reported the Indonesian punks getting arrested and harassed by the local cops. Meanwhile indie bands moan about their rider and their record label and their drug problems…
We think we are above it all here and have neatly edited punk out of our culture into a conservative cartoon cut out like on the Young Ones, a neat paradoy that took something that was once intelligent and dangerous and made it into a joke. We won’t  play punk on the radio because it doesn’t fit in with our edited and watered down idea of alternative, we don’t stone people to death here thank god, we just make sure no one can hear them. 
And remember just before you feel really smug in your Safe European Home don’t forget that oppression strikes in the UK as the conservative forces bring the baton down, like in the case of Sophie Lancaster- beaten to death in a park 5 years ago because of her style or the hundreds of kids who get bullied in the UK because they dare to dress outside the norm- it still goes on beyond the confines of watered down ‘alternative’ culture.

Previous articleSophie Lancaster campaign latest… Govt publishes report on hate crime
Next articleMonkey Island / The Dublo – split 10″ – review
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. These bally foreign types need to realise that bopping rabble rousers on the bonce, chucking them in chokey or publicly humiliating them just gets the little tykes more riled up and simply won’t work. The best thing to do is to commodify their silly little revolution, water it down and sell it in chain stores. Then, numb their brains with Playstations, X-Factor, Reality TV, ‘indie’ music and ‘groundbreaking’ TV spin-off movie remakes.

    With any luck, they’ll turn into the lovely little cabbage-brained zombies that wander up and down the charming shopping malls of merry old England, overdosing on silly-flavoured coffees, hi-tops and skinny jeans.

  2. its interesting to see just how important ‘punk’ has become internationally as a platform for protest that is meaningful which strikes me as somewhat of a contrast to how it is in the UK.In my experience a large percentage of UK ‘punks’ are just bone idle ‘dossers’ who just sit around swigging cider and moaning about everything but never lifting a finger to do anything about it. Worse still, some are just chavs with mohicans as they seem to accept much of the reactionary crap which is thrown at us and this just exposes them for the pathetic morons that they are.In my opinion you have to be careful regarding ‘punks’ significance today.When all is said and done punk is just a form of music/fashion, it will never change anything, unfortunately you have to get involved in politics/protest movements for that to happen. It saddens me to say this but a lot of todays so called punks are such thick, moronic fools that the very idea of them ever helping to change anything is completely absurd.This may seem like a harsh analysis but it is only too true in many cases.It is also interesting to note how much punk has changed over the years, when it started it was basically just a bunch of musicians jumping on a bandwagon and changing their fashion, some of them such as the Clash, SLF,the Ruts etc saying some worthwhile things that made you think, others purely in it for a laugh/money like Radio Stars or the Vibrators. Don’t get me wrong i love early punk, it was bloody great, but in my opinion only as music/fashion. I hugely respect bands like Crass etc who radically altered what punk was but it was not for me.Good luck to these global ‘punks’, i sincerely hope that they can start to make sense of the rotten situations many of them are in through punk music and i hope it doesn’t descend in to the pointlessness of much contemporary UK punk.

  3. […] LTW reported last week (LTW feature), globally, punk rock seems to be having a resurgence as rebel music right now whilst here in the […]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here